Broadband Stories - Lafayette Township

by LiamBean

In 2006 Lafayette, Louisiana took on the phone and cable companies to build their own fiber-optic broadband.

Cox Communications and BellSouth (an AT&T company) worked in the state legislature to block the plan even though the Township had gone to them both seeking Internet service. Unfair competition was the reason. But the legislature did a brave thing; they voted to let residents decide how to proceed.

The legislature passed a measure allowing Lafayette to submit a bond measure to voters. The town passed it by a margin of sixty three percent and shortly thereafter they began to build their own fiber-optic network.

Fastest Backbone in the South

Connections of 100 Megabits per second common

February 9, 2013

Though the plan was implemented in 2007, the BellSouth lawsuit kept the plan tied up in the courts for just over a year. Groundbreaking took place in February 2008 and the first customers were added to the system by early February 2009, when that the city’s fiber network came online. By 2012 it was paying for itself.

This year, 2013, it is destined to start turning a profit.

LUSFiber is a going concern. By the way, LUS stands for Lafayette Utility System. As such is is part of the city run services for water, power, and sewage.

City-Parish President Joey Durel predicted that soon, the fiber network will turn a profit. Lafayette  now offers residents and businesses one of the fastest Internet connections in the nation. That's right, a city run service is running circles around the big boys.

Government or Private Enterprise

 The FCC has endorsed plans for cities to provide high-speed Internet. But this has stirred a debate; should high speed internet be the sole prevue of companies or should Internet access be provided by the government like water and sewage.

“The common argument was — because we’ve all been taught this in civics — that government shouldn’t compete in the private sector. And I saw this as not so much government competing with the private sector — I told my citizens, I didn’t see BellSouth as the private sector. I read somewhere that they got more government subsidies at that time than any other corporation in America. That’s quasi-government, in my opinion. That’s not the little shoe store on Main Street." --
Joey Durel former chair of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce
Bill Moyers Journal: Bank Fraud / Net Neutrality

In this edition of the Journal, Bill Moyers sits down with veteran regulator William K. Black, who says Wall Street is still breaking regulatory rules and questions whether Pres...

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Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission's rules on Internet freedom and openness. Published to the US registry in September 2011. Effective November 20th, 2011.

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Good for Business

Lafayettes backbone attracting business

Since Lafayette’s fiber network came online in 2009 the municipality has attracted entrepreneurs and businesses. The city now hosts programmers, engineering firms, oil-related technology companies and even a visual effects company from California.

But the big communications companies are not sitting idly by. Nineteen states have since passed legislation that prevents municipalities and cities from competing with private enterprise.

A List of Links about Lafayette, Louisiana

USA Today Article on Lafayette
It started as sixty-five miles of fiber-optic for the power plants.

Moyers on the Internet Battle
Moyers' talks about Lafayette and other municipalities

Free Internet Access?

FCC proposes freeing bandwidth and making it unlicensed

The FCC is currently considering taking a small sliver of broadcast frequency and making it public. This means that this area of communications frequencies would be completely unlicensed. This in turn would allow any group (company, municipality, or private party) to build a WiFi network operating in that frequency and offer it to anyone interested.

If a city took on such a task they could essentially offer free Internet access on that frequency. Alternatively companies or individuals could do the same thing.

Because the FCC is considering offering this segment of the bandwidth with no licensing fees, costs to build-out a network in this bandwidth could be quite cheap.

Additionally, this segment of bandwidth has a much longer range than say the Gigahertz portion of the spectrum currently in use by wireless phone companies.

This would make networks operating in this bandwidth more reliable with a broader coverage area. This would also help make the network cheaper. A wireless network with longer range requires less equipment and has lower power requirements.

Should Companies Stand Aside?

If Internet Providers are too slow to provide service, should they make way for city services?
Updated: 10/15/2018, LiamBean
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